Pro-Life Group Sues Natl Park Service for Denying Abortion March Protest
by Steven Ertelt
April 19, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A pro-life group will file a lawsuit against the National Park Service on Tuesday saying the federal agency has discriminated against it by refusing to allow it to engage in a counterprotest at the pro-abortion march on Saturday.
The Christian Defense Coalition was hoping to peacefully demonstrate on the public sidewalks during the march, sponsored by leading abortion advocacy groups but also supported by unrelated organizations like the NAACP, labor organizations and Jewish groups.
"It is very troubling that the Park Service has crushed and trampled the First Amendment by denying our right to peacefully demonstrate on public sidewalks," Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said in a statement.
"It is our hope that the courts will stand against this kind of censorship and affirm our right to peacefully articulate our views in the public square," Mahoney added.
Calls from LifeNews.com to the park service were not returned at press time.
This isn’t the first time the agency has upset pro-life advocates.
After drawing criticism from pro-life groups for including footage of pro-abortion events in the videotape shown at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, the National Park Service confirmed, in January, that it will change the video.
The 8-minute video, on public display since 1995, depicts images of a wide variety of events that took place at the Memorial.
As part of its update, the National Park Service plans to add scenes including rallies by pro-life groups and Promise Keepers, a Christian organization, to the video.
Bill Line, a spokesperson for the National Park Service said significant pressure for the change came from the office of pro-life Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-KS).
In a letter to the National Park Service in February 2003, Tiahrt objected to the portions of the video that depicts 16 seconds of footage from a NARAL pro-abortion rally. Tiahrt has been in frequent contact with the park service since the letter, Line said, in order to ensure that changes were made.
Some of the visuals included signs and banners reading "National Organization for Women," "Keep Abortion Legal," and "I Am Pro-Choice America."